Take A Drive [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

We are a walking paradox: homebodies and roadtrippers. We love to be on the road, going on adventures and discovering new places. We adore being at home, comfy in our well-worn patterns.

It only makes sense that, when we can’t take a long roadtrip, our escape-fantasy-of-choice is to get in the car and drive. We head to the county, out into the country. We slow down. We get lost on purpose. We dream and the stresses-of-the-moment dissipate. We drive, windows down. There are no wrong turns. We are free.

Eventually, we return home, find a sunny spot in the back yard, pour some wine and nestle into our chairs. “Life is good,” we breathe, drinking in the setting sun. We re-realize something we understood when we first met: it’s all a roadtrip. This whole complicated amazing life.

We look at each other, knowing what the other is thinking. “Let’s just keep going and going and going….”

read Kerri’s blogpost about A DRIVE

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smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Follow Your North Star [on KS Friday]

We are on a hummingbird watch. There’s an app that plots their migration. They’ve been spotted to the north of us.The little hummingbird symbols on the map show a veritable cavalry of hummingbirds approaching from the south. Our hummingbird feeders are poised and ready, filled with sugar water. Gay, Jay, and Kerri have an agreement: the first to spot a hummingbird in their yard gets a celebratory margarita.

One of my heroes, my great-aunt Dorothy, had multiple hummingbird feeders on her mountaintop yard. I remember sitting in the sun watching the hummingbird posse dart from feeder to feeder. Dorothy’s little plot of grass was a magical place. Blue bottles caught the sun, special rocks glittered, Poncho the dog lazed in the shade, Del’s old army jeep teetered on the edge of the abyss. A ride in the jeep was certain to take us up the mountain into wild, unimaginable adventure.

They did not live in the world of hurry-up and get-there. Their world was the opposite. They were not trying to be-somewhere-else. They designed their lives on experiencing the here-and-now. Their intention was to appreciate-the-fullness-of-this-moment. It was the only place in my childhood, other than my studio/bedroom, that made sense, though it’s taken me a lifetime to recognize why.

They didn’t split themselves. They chose simple living over anxious striving. When I was young I often looked at Dorothy and wanted to know what she knew, wanted to live as she lived. I loved taking walks through the mountain trails with her. I’ve only recently recognized that Kerri and I walk as Dorothy walked. Slowly. Open to what crosses our path and calls our attention. We are capable of walking the same trail each day and experiencing it anew each time.

My north star has been there all along, even in the times when I jumped into the race because it was what I thought I was supposed to do. Yesterday, I went into my upstairs office, sat at my drafting table, and drew cartoons, modifying scripts generated from chatGPT. “I can’t continue to just apply for positions,” I told myself, “I have to do something different as well.” Cartoons.

I laughed. I was full-to-overflowing with ideas. I’ve not been so happy in weeks. Something different; something sane. Something now.

This morning, while I washed dishes, I gazed out the kitchen window, watching for the hummingbirds. I remembered something Susan said to us at breakfast last week: your yard is a sanctuary. She told us that she makes a pilgrimage to our yard each year to recharge. Our yard is like Del and Dorothy’s mountaintop, not by accident, but through intention. It is the place we sit-in-the-here-and-now. To rejuvenate. To enjoy the chipmunk colony living in Barney-the-piano, the chatter of the squirrels, that flash of the cardinals. To await with great anticipation the arrival of the first hummingbird.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes & streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about TINY FEATHERS

i didn’t know/this part of the journey © 1998 kerri sherwood

Listen To The River [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“Have you learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I’m not sure why I didn’t recognize it before now but Siddhartha and the Parcival grail epic are the same story. A ferryman. A hermit in the woods. A second teacher that appears and teaches presence – by example.

“The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. You have already learned from the river that it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths. The rich and distinguished Siddhartha will become a rower…” Parcival removes his armor. The great and powerful knight loses himself; he chops wood and carries water.

Eileen, 20’s mom, turns 100 today. Her party was last week. 20 made a beautiful photo board of her long life. The child. The sassy teenager. A vibrant young woman. A mother. A keeper-of-the-books. A grandmother. An aged woman. The full cycle of life. Her granddaughters attended the party. Her great-granddaughters, too.

“Age-and-stage,” 20 often says. Age and stage.

“Is this what you mean? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean, and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future?”

That is it,” said Siddhartha, “and when I learned that, I reviewed my life and it was also a river…”

Parcival turned and was shocked to see the grail castle standing in the meadow behind him. The hermit smiled and said, “Boy, it’s been there all along.”

Happy Birthday, Eileen. 100 years. A moment.

read Kerri’s blogpost about 100 YEARS

Open And Share [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We have “go” bags packed. One contains our important papers. The other has a change of clothes and the dog’s leash. It’s not that we’re paranoid. During the civil unrest a few years ago – buildings ablaze and murder on the streets just a block or two from our house – the local authorities advised people to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice. We prepared our “go” bags and thought it such a good idea that we’ve never unpacked them. Now, when the tornado sirens wail, we simply grab our bags and the dog and descend into the basement. Easy-peasy in times of scramble.

Each night we watch Youtube videos of people hiking long distance trails. Often the hikers talk about the moment that they “leave” the mindset of the city and enter the freedom of the trail. Everything they need they carry on their backs. They cease dealing with what is supposed-to-be and fully enter life with what is right in front of them. There is a plan and the plan is constantly in flux. There is little to no consistency. What they can and cannot control becomes readily apparent.

What is most important, what is consistent to all of their stories on the trail, is how important other people become to their experience. Leaving the mindset of the city brings them back to the basic tenet of their humanity. They are totally dependent upon the kindness of others. They enter an ecosystem of mutual support. The illusion of “every-man-for-himself” falls away. They open. They share. They fill themselves with gratitude for others. The people who try to go-it-alone don’t make it very far.

I think that is why, at the end of each day, we watch these people on the trail, with their “go” bags on their backs and their hearts bursting with appreciation for their lives and for those who walk with them, if only for a day. They remind us of what’s most important. They cut through the noisy abstraction of news and ratings and likes. They don’t expect their walk to be easy or comfortable or pretty. They remind us to fill our days with gratitude for others, to turn toward our fellow travelers rather than turn away. They offer a hand and accept assistance. They share. They remind us, in our scramble to find safety in the storm, that life in an ecosystem of support is what it’s all about.

read Kerri’s blogpost about STORMS

See The Awesome [on KS Friday]

Our favorite Wander Women posted the next installment of their through-hike on the Arizona trail. They are 300 miles in and passed through a burn zone that impacted a Saguaro cactus forest. Some of the giant cactus had perished. Many were burned yet somehow, survived. New growth pushed through the top of the blackened resilient plants. I was awestruck.

A decade or so ago, when life was hard, when I least believed in human kindness, I set out each day on my walk across the city determined to count acts of generosity. The acts of benevolence were everywhere and by far outnumbered the aggressive honkers and the impatience of frustrated commuters. By the time I reached my studio I wondered how there could be so much kindness, so much benevolence in the world, unseen. I wondered why our shared story was of a scary-angry-world rather than a world of munificence. The evidence did not support the narrative.

Looking for kindness in others inspired acts of kindness in me. Sometimes, after I witnessed a generosity, I approached the person who gave of themselves and acknowledged their act. I essentially said, ‘I saw that and it was awesome.” You may or may not be surprised to learn how impactful a simple acknowledgement can be. People smiled and blushed. People waved it off as if it was nothing.

Kindness is everything.

My walks across the city were more than a decade ago. The shared narrative of scary-angry-world is louder now than ever yet I wonder if I took a walk across my city-of-yore would I see a different result or the same? Kindness flies mostly under the radar, people wave it off as small gestures; it doesn’t pull high ratings like bullying or blood or scandal. We live within the narrative we feed.

I suspect kindness is as pervasive as fear-mongering but kindness doesn’t care if it gets the headline.

A sentinel stands on our trail. A tall stump, long ago burned by fire, perhaps a lightning strike. Perhaps its blackened scars are from a controlled burn. It reminds me of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The birds use it for perching. The squirrels burrow at its base. Life teems around and because of the blackened stump. It always captures our attention. I imagine it is kind since so many creatures and living things find support in its watchful presence. New growth will never push through the top of this stump. It is no longer self-generating. It is, however, like a standing nurse log, new life teems around, on top of, and through it. A silent giver. I am always tempted to step off the path and whisper, “I saw that and it was awesome.”

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE STUMP

transience/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood

Consider The Fact [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

In writing yesterday about the frogs arising from their eradicated landscape, I realized our front yard has become a bit of a metaphor. It, too, was eradicated. In the past two years it has been blasted to bits, trenched by too-large machines, huge mounds of earth and debris left behind to molder. After a prolonged battle, the digger of trenches and leaver of mounds returned with a different batch of too-large machines and quickly scraped away the mounds and all the living things, tossed some seed, spread some hay, and tacked some netting to the ground to keep the seed from blowing away.

A metaphor of our life. Eradicated landscape. Willy-nilly seed.

Yet, just as the frogs filled us with awe at their resilience, we are amazed watching determined shoots of hardy green reach through the disruption. Each patch of green perseverance fills us with giddy hope. New life is coming!

“We are like that,” we affirm.

We are not alone in our renewal. We are surrounded by a mighty community. Dan shares his grass-mastery and guides us toward lawn renewal. Dwight shares his wisdom and encourages us toward soul regeneration. 20 keeps us laughing and our hearts light. Brad and Jen walk each step with us. There is more support than we can count, more friendship than we can believe, both near and from afar. Abundance.

Abundance. Beyond metaphor, it is the fact of our life.

read Kerri’s blogpost about GREEN

Unroll And Tune In [on KS Friday]

I did a stupid thing. A few years ago I rolled several of my canvases and stacked the many heavy rolls. Stacking them was my crime. The weight crushed the bottom rolls, potentially leaving ripples in the paintings. I know better. I’m unrolling each, one roll at a time, weighting the flat canvas so any potential wave is pressed. So far there is no damage.

I have opened three rolls. I have three more rolls to go. The opened rolls remain flat on the ground with the next roll layered on top. A new type of stack. Sedimentary paintings. Each layer provides weight to help flatten the previous roll. It’s slow going. I am being careful. I am treating the canvas – my paintings – with the respect that I should have afforded them long ago.

We took a walk on the road when we were up north. It was snowing and the world became snow-quiet. As without, so within. I became snow-quiet. The gang walked ahead as Kerri took a photo of the silent woods. I turned my face to the snow and felt the sting of each flake. Sometimes, when deep in the snow-quiet, the life-canvas is blank and affords the opportunity to discover the world anew; snow on my face for the first time. This earth is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Unrolling each roll of paintings is like turning my face to the falling snow. It makes me quiet. I am seeing paintings – my paintings – that I have not seen for a few years. I am afforded the opportunity to discover my world anew. I’m finding, as I carefully weight them, hoping the ripples are not permanent, that I have new eyes and new appreciation for my life and work. Unrolling the rolls, caring for the pieces, evokes peace in me.

I painted each of these paintings for the same reason. Standing before my easel quiets my mind and tunes me into something bigger than my tiny frets and future worries. It connects me – and that is whole point of the arts. It connects us. Unites us.

With each roll revealed, just as with each new painting, I become clear, if only for a moment. Like a walk through the woods on a snowy day.

[Peace is one of my favorites of Kerri’s compositions]

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about SNOWY WOODS

peace/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Appreciate The Simple [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I awoke alarmed and sat up. Dogga was not sleeping at the foot of the bed! He’s always there! Where was he? And then I remembered. We were “up north” for a few days. Dogga was safe at home with 20. I lay awake feeling deeply his absence. Disoriented.

A few days later we were home. Because of my up-north-late-night-moment-of-bewilderment, I was hyper-aware of how “right” our world feels when we are all together. I adore our daily patterns and rituals. Dogga’s enthusiasm, his Aussie quirks inform every move we make.

Sometimes we think we hear BabyCat thumping around upstairs or awake feeling as if he just jumped onto the bed – we call it “the raft.” When we are all together on the raft, there is nothing better on earth.

It’s such a simple and yet profound thing. Presence. With it, all is right in the world.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE RAFT

smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Drop In [on Two Artists Tuesday]

We stopped on the boardwalk. The sentinel tree stood solitary in the field. Its presence stopped us in our tracks. It was a bone keeping watch over the marshes. It felt forgotten. Unreachable. Made beautiful in its dedication. It inspired quiet. Suddenly, we found ourselves witness to the witness. Look-at-me-look-at-you.

Perhaps it was the boardwalk but I was thrust back in time to a pier. Long Island Sound. It was early morning. The sound and vibration called me to the pier’s end. I stood for a few minutes, eyes closed, and listened. Hundreds of birds, pigeons, chattering beneath the boards, their voices amplified by the wood and soundbox of the structure. I felt them through my feet. Kneeling, I tried to catch a glimpse of the cacophony-makers. They, too inspired quiet.

“Hawk!” Kerri said, pointing and bringing me back to the boardwalk. Beyond the sentinel a hawk threaded masterfully through branches.

I used to think that these magical moments took me out of the real world. Stopping time. Now, I believe the opposite is true. These moments snap me out of my mind-chatter and drop me into the real world. Achingly beautiful. Alive. No story necessary.

pigeon pier. 46x46IN

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SENTINEL

pigeon pier © 2007 david robinson

Drop In [on Merely A Thought Monday]

It happened again. Last night, sitting at the table with Dan and Charlie, sipping wine and talking about fatherhood and life lessons, I dropped into a hyper-focus. I was completely present and utterly cherished these two men. The moment was so full that I ached, a tree splitting its bark unable to contain the enormity. Trying to hide my tears tossed me back into the blur.

Presence is vulnerable!

As I write this I am aware that language is incapable of capturing the experience. Cherish. Dropped into.

It happened again deep in the night. Kerri and I pretzeled under the warm quilts, the window open to the cold night air, a gentle rain, Dogga asleep on my feet. It’s as if the past and future part like the Red Sea and there is nothing pulling me away from this moment, this breath. Any story or fear or regret or justification or…dissipates. Life comes into crisp focus. There are no edges to the savoring. No end to the vastness of love.

“Remember this,” I tell myself, and the act of trying to capture it, separates me again. The future/past rush over me and time’s return tumbles me back into the mind-flood.

Trying “to do” something with “it,” confuses “it.”

During our call I told Rebecca of Saul-the-Tai-Chi-Master’s wise instruction: stay on the root and let the energy move you. It’s been over a decade since I studied with Saul. At the time, his words seemed aspirational, an abstraction. An achievement to strive for. “The field of opportunity.” “Focus beyond the opponent and the opponent drops away.”

In stopping the chase, I’m only now beginning to understand.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BEING ALIVE

Face The Rain, 24x24IN, mixed media on panel